Economic Pessimism but Generational Optimism: Australian Perspectives Towards 2014

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Despite some signs that Australia’s economy is growing, in general Australians remain cautious, spending remains subdued, and consumer sentiment remains lacklustre.

Rising living costs are still the Number 1 issue for Australians, economic instability is still of significant concern for 3 in 5 Australians and almost half the population thinking that 2014 will be worse economically than 2013.

Economic pessimism in looking forward to 2014

A recent McCrindle study indicates that a surprising 1 in 3 Australians (33%) are very pessimistic about Australia’s economy, stating the economy is worse now than last year and predicting that it will be even worse next year.

27% of Australians sense Australia’s economy strengthening – stating that Australia’s economy is better now and will continue to build in the year ahead – and 25% are optimistic that Australia’s economy is rebuilding, being worse now than last year but hopeful improving in the year to come.

A smaller number of Australians (15%, 1 in 7) feel that Australia’s economy is on a double-dip – having improved this year they sense that things will worsen in 2014.

Males and Gen Y slightly more optimistic about Australia’s economy

In looking at the figures more closely, only 2 in 5 (42%) of Australians feel the economy is better now than a year ago, and just over half (52%) feel that the economy will be better next year.

Males are slightly more optimistic than females, with 58% of males holding to the belief that the economy will be better next year, compared with just 50% of females feel the same way.

Younger Australians are not only more optimistic about what 2014 will hold for them, but also hold more optimism towards Australia’s economy, with 59% of Generation Ys holding to the belief that the economy will be better in the year ahead (compared with 50% of Generation X and 47% of Baby Boomers).

Key concerns for Australians: Living costs, crime, economic instability

When asked how concerned they were about a number of key areas leading up to 2014, Australians panted a clear picture of the current national mood. Here are the top concerns in looking ahead to 2014:

Year after year, Australians continue to feel the largest apprehension towards the rise of living costs, with 4 in 5 (79%) of Australians seeing the cost of living as an extreme or significant issue.

While rising living costs are of concern to all Australians, concerns vary from generation to generation. The issue of climate change, for example, is of greater concern for younger Australians, with 84% of Generation Y believing this to be of concern, compared to only 62% of the Builder Generation. Older Australians are more concerned with issues of safety and immigration, with 89% believing that ‘migration and multiculturalism’ is of concern, compared with 71% of Generation Y and 70% of Generation X holding to this belief.

Trending concerns from 2013 to 2014: Areas of extreme concern

Rising living costs have grown in concern for Australians since last year (extreme concern is up from 46% last year to 48% today), along with gun crime (up from 33% to 35%). Extreme concern regarding refugees and boat arrivals has declined, however, moving from 37% last year to 30% this year.

Table of Concerns 2014

Other major concerns that Australians voiced:

  • Job security and unemployment 
  • Health care availability and costs 
  • Education issues 
  • Government policy and decision making 
  • Loss of values and community spirit

Personally Optimistic: 1 in 2 Australians personally optimistic about the coming year

When it comes to looking ahead to what 2014 will hold for their own lives, over half of Australians (53%) are positive, to some extent, about what 2014 will have in store, expressing that the year ahead will be better than 2013.

Younger Australians are more optimistic than older Australians with 71% of Generation Y expressing the year ahead will be better, compared with just 52% of Generation X and 39% of Baby Boomers holding to the same view.

Social researcher Mark McCrindle says, “The ‘no worries’ attitude Australians are renowned for can be seen in their outlook for the year ahead. Despite the economic uncertainty, more than half of the nation believe 2014 will be a better year for them than 2013 with just 1 in 5 believing that it will be worse. And in keeping with what we have seen with the younger generations in the past, Generation Y are the most optimistic about the year ahead with 7 in 10 buoyant about what it holds compared to half of Gen X and just over a third of Baby Boomers.”

Australians who express strong optimism indicate that they are secure in their financial situation and have increased trust in the new government:

More job security means less stress financially, and I’m feeling more secure about my employment situation. 

I have gotten rid of most of my debts – for the first time in my life have enough money to not have to worry about paying my bills. 

Politically things seem to have settled down – we now have a new government with sound administration and economic management.

Whether going on a holiday, moving house, starting a family or new relationship, getting married, finding their dream job, pursuing new career ambitions, or entering retirement, these Aussies look forward to 2014 as a year of significant change and life events. They look forward to 2014 to bring new and exciting life events, and have a general optimism of the future!

I’ve just moved house, started a new relationship, started a new job and have booked a holiday for 2014. 

Happiness is what you make of it – I try to be positive most of the time. 

I’m making changes in my life – I plan on getting fitter and being more productive in 2014.

Positively forward-looking Australians also report greater trust in Australia’s economic outlook:

Property prices will drop, the stock market is on the up trend, and we’re attracting foreign investment as a safe growth economy. 

The [economic] mood has changed for the better and people are starting to spend. 

International economies are steadily improving, which means the Australian dollar will continue to drift back to its normal rates, improving exports and Australia’s balance of trade.

Even for those Australians for whom 2013 has had its fair share of ups and downs, there is a general optimism that 2014 will have better things in store.

I’ve been very ill and many things have gone wrong this year – my health is now on the way to recovery, so I should be good to go in 2014. 

We have had a terrible year but next year will be better – I’m hoping for improvements. 

2013 was a difficult year for me personally, but I am optimistic about the year ahead.

1 in 4 say that next year will be about the same

A quarter of Australians think that the year ahead will neither be blissful nor doomsday – they expect things to plow on similar to 2013 – economically, relationally, and health-wise.

This cohort sees ‘no big changes on the horizon,’ and anticipates both good and bad times. They withhold themselves from expecting too much change or are pragmatic in not wanting to predict what the future will hold.

1 in 5 Australians think the year to come will be worse than 2013

Australians who expressed that next year will be worse than the current year (22%) mostly expressed concern for rising living expenses and cost of living pressures, coupled with economic uncertainty and a poor job outlook.

Everything is becoming expensive on a daily basis. Life is getting expensive each month and there is no saving. 

Cost of living pressures are becoming unmanageable – bills keep going up with no rise in income to compensate. 

A lot of Australian jobs are going overseas, we’re seeing a slow economic downturn and an increase in youth unemployment.

Mistrust in the new government or apprehension of political decisions concerning social policy are also of concern:

Apprehension is what I feel at the moment as this government is not doing a good job at all, there are too many changes being made. 

Our country is in a bit of a mess - hopefully we will finally grow up!! 

The government needs to start taking care of its own people – especially the elderly and those with a disability.

Click here to download the full research summary.

Welcome to our blog...

We have a passion for research that tells a story, that can be presented visually, that brings about change and improves organisations. And we hope these resources help you know the times.

Our Social Media Sites

Facebook | McCrindle Research Social Media YouTube | McCrindle Research Social Media Twitter | McCrindle Research Social Media Flickr | McCrindle Research Social Media Pinterest | McCrindle Research Social Media Google Plus | McCrindle Research Social Media LinkedIn | McCrindle Research Social Media Mark McCrindle Slideshare

Last 150 Articles


the australian dream Love work mates apartment urban happiness education research demographic trends office space sydney hills Australian Census media activity population map vegetarian infographic wall millennials goals casual fresh ageing divorce rate housing market Population Clock authenticity Financial Planning Association of Australia names Australian demographics princess charlotte menai customer national wealth speaker research on coffee 2016 census professional services faux-cilise public speaker breakfast social issues curiosity property hills shire food insecurity eliane Australian Dream networking Charlotte Gen Y product Financial Planning Week World Water Day define proactive media commentary weather forecast population cancelling event research pack video entertainment australian communities trends report sunny days salary meetings optimistic New Zeland slideshare professional presenters Queensland: QLD professional royal family 2013 shifts australian community trends report education future snapshot social change Channel 7 ACF2017 GPO socialites SMART 2016 dare to dream optus TED talk James Ward marrickville media google for education offenders friends earnings case study recap affordability Real Estate mccrindle in the media world market research tableau entrepreneurial wealth and income medicine home WA sydneycity storytelling rain wage real narcissism social commentary households program friendship educated focus group aged care puzzle home ownership suburban living visual emerging generations financial future greatness NBRS Architecture qualitative research TED rising house prices Australia Day cars sustainable community megatrends social commentator easy rider staff ashley fell renter of the future presentations graphs australians staying home more the hills shire household omnibus wolloomooloo life investing Western Australia Aussies 1968 demographic Hornsby Shire Council rental stress employment commute Northern Beaches trends internships parenting resource sports middle class kate middleton families money report acf15 responsive community event Financial Planning Association baby names report mother's day ferry university degree generation christianity wedding sector wide study demographics coffee lovers social analysis Crime Rates faith 23 million forecasting cooking poor HSC Skilling learning styles gender teach aussie culture mateship Mark McCrindle award winner micro internship local world youth day living baby name trends panel culturally diverse social impact car intern future of shopping baby boomers cartodb spend VIC keynote speaker social research study Geoff Brailey suburbs gig economy faux-ciliser mccrindle research mover and shaker sector skills Sydney Engineering Manager social entrepreneurs of today professional speaker buildings Channel Seven renting transport leader NEETs survey design baby names conference speaker speakers future-proof mccrindle weekly earnings DESTEL ageing population challenge Word Up careers Education Future Forum education sector Australian Families land of the middle class financial independence new office builders geomapping future of work South Australia group easter healthy future Hills Shire Council perth school students holidays year 12 Social Trend tea bureau forum environment volunteering identity Territory housing growth pharmacies online 2016 census results budget in the media winter 10 years financial organisations jobs of the future census data high density living personalities owning a home lalor park DIY daily telegraph hills shopper's pick REIV Conference infographics Macquarie University food debate woolworths EFF sydneysiders Australia Day 2017 the great screenage property price plans Kirsten Brewer schools increasing densification impact growth FOMO New Zealand wealth inequality census 2016 System's Architect ultimo outsourcing community engagement grave decision teachers NT logan earn Vocational education media release average aussie NBRS overcast consumerism toys thought leadership long weekend purpose FPA VET sector wellbeing townhouses manly monarchy Australian Bureau of Statistics house "know the times" holiday university future wealth distribution educhat sector wide chairty child care brands the average aussie dream publication future proof trend criminal consumer research visualisation energy McCrindle Speakers brand women Wodonga mining boom conferences school satisfaction priorities Australian Trends Kiwi Duchess of Cambridge Assistant Store Manager shopping divorce generation Z equip experience affordable micro apartments conference Births economic victoria student visualisation cancelling plans eliane miles stay home ACT Report wages financial fears Netflix unaffordable conference presentation data analyst winter blues Tuesday Trends students faux-cilising results 2015 income What is food insecurity? workplace ideas goal debt innovation cloudy days 1980 sydney event Australians speajer blaxland jobs 24,000,000 employers giving Northern Territory tuesday event schools students The ABC of XYZ ACF 2016 rich ABS dessert Christmas presents researcher Scouts cultural diveristy 2012 social trends trends of 2017 leadership JOMO moreton bay insight shopping centre millenials local communities 2017 state marriages fears mentor potts point Wellington business social enquiry rule keeper litter population growth quote census fail environmental scanning Australian communities ACF17 mythbusters cash village Valentine’s Day tertiary education communications apartments brisbane hello fresh Res Vis learn small business gold coast unemployment TEDx public speaking #censusfail technology sydney metro ipswich millionth pharmacy rise of local SA English story ashley mckenzie Queensland suburb mccrindle tea low density bondi staying in teaching gen z Deaths hunger Caregiver culture ACF grandparents Real Estate Institute of Victoria volunteering data Wagga Wagga young australians events wealth thrive SRE water balance baby name prince george capital cities travel deloitte personal growth insights huffington post royal Generation X Gen X motivate ethnography the hills sunburnt country etiquette states investor global hobart social shifts CBD sydney speaker men Aussie Generation Y national crime rates tv change stats education future report training baby names australia report house price screenage australian real estate communicate workplace culture the lucky country not for profit emerging technologies CPI non profit engagement gen alpha residents VET Australian Population father's day 1994 social media paying to work volunteers Christchurch Merry Christmas keynote shbc business performance research social life bus youth young people volunteer research services future of education youth unemployment government demographer twentyseventeen not for profit research selfie repayments social researcher NSW going out statistics Research Executive generational trends average sydneysider business index language education supply and demand collaboration christmas alpha 1975 charities Bathburst contiki economy Christmas season Melbourne charity train high density local community australian communities forum SMSF crows nest data visualisation darwin vegemite in depth interviews Tuesday Trend house price rise church children The Daily Edition data communication ACT housing aged care NFP event religion generations learner January 26th engage Canberra 40 million Australian schools rent dreaming internet digital Adelaide post rationalism housing affordability census results celebration trends of 2016 belief facts financial planning year 7 Myth emerging trends analysis urban living urban taskforce earning demographic transformations spirituality follow entrepreneur resilience domestic employmee not-for-profit summer marriage socialising communities Northern Beaches Christian School global generations baby know the times mobile donate crime population milestone tips click interactive investment work-life workforce professional development teleworking collaborative housing trends house prices high density apartments average Australian family mythbusting Australian Home australian nfp innovative sydneysider IT Specialists live the dream growing population travelling newspaper award Jura Coffee generation alpha Sydney keynote speaker royal influence hopes 2020 Andrew Duffin 24 million meals Royals brand experience parents participants news REIV National Conference global financial crisis norwest commuters New South Wales office opening leadership workshop school relational Tasmania list cold public holiday pyrmont research data national private wealth dreams google futurist poker master Jura Australia 2014 safe showreel employmer cultural diversity tattoos moderators guide Australian Communities Trends sentiments survey area workshop February 16 anzac typical australian McCridle care support work focus groups Australian community trends gig neutral bay coffee city property market seasons speakers pack teacher Research Director food bank online shopping society retirement home owner society trends daily commute learning Australia street cost of living future proofing Do It Yourself group session cica ease of travel australian social research career lifestyle royal baby TDE trends analyst high school presentation cancel plans choice workers clothing australia organisational culture the changing face of marketing capital city finance office TAS PSI hornsby politics annual income Sydney Hills Business Chamber baby boom trend tuesday couple mortgage changing face of sydney social researchers research report sun waverton Work place infographic trades baby name predictions relevant financial dreams cost demography social lives optus my business awards urban living index wealth and income distribution census Northern beaches Event donation Christmas lunch christian new york times